This section is from the book "The Florists' Manual", by William Scott. Also available from Amazon: The Florist's Manual.
The beautiful variegated pineapple is a variegated form of the pineapple that is grown for its fruit, Ananas sativa. When well grown there is no variegated ornamental plant surpassing it in beauty. Pineapples, when well grown, can be fruited in two years. They were once a great feature of British gardens. The writer has helped or watched the packing of tons of Black Jamaica and Queen pineapples, some forty-five years ago. when fruits of either of those fine varieties were worth from $5.00 to $10.00 each. That was in the days when the foreign or tropical grown fruit was little larger than a baseball and about as tough. Since then the cultivation of the pineapple has been skillfully and systematically taken up in several tropical countries, perhaps to the greatest perfection in the Azores, and the fruit being almost equal, both in appearance and flavor, to those grown under glass, the industry is no longer profitable and would be out of the province of this chapter if it were.
The propagation of the pineapple is by suckers, which start freely from the base of the stem, and from the leafy crown on the fruit. They should be cleaned off and a small portion of the base of the sucker cut squarely off. Pot firmly into 3 or 4-inch pots and plunge into bottom heat of 75 to 80 degrees. Keep only moderately moist until rooted. The suckers appear at the time the plant is fruiting, and the larger the suckers when severed from the old plant, the better.
The soil best suited for them is a good, loamy sod, not too finely broken up. If heavy add sand with a fifth or sixth of leaf-mold and rotted cow manure in equal parts. They should at all times be firmly potted. To hasten their growth they should be plunged during summer in a light house and shaded only during the very hottest hours of the day. Plenty of water should be given in summer, but the plants should be kept rather on the dry side in winter. By all means avoid a stagnant, wet soil.
This plant is beautiful at all stages of its growth, and is particularly attractive when in flower and fruit, the latter lasting on the plant several weeks.
To those growing them largely for the trade I might mention an item in their culture which may or may not be in practice. As it was an excellent plan to produce a plant of the green foliaged fruiting varieties it cannot but be good with the variegated variety. It was to plant out the young rooted suckers from the 3-inch or 4-inch pots into six inches of good compost under glass during summer and lift them in the fall or following spring. Where some bottom heat can be given to the bed they will make as much growth in six months planted out as they will in twelve months grown in pots.
Ananas Sativa Varicgata.